As a Functional Medicine nutritionist, I think like a detective to help my clients understand the "why" behind their "what" (the diagnosis). Sometimes, the "why" can be revealed in a simple conversation; more often, more investigation is needed (various types of functional testing and lab work).
The following is an example of one hunt for the root cause of a client's problem. It was a simple conversation over dinner. Amy showed me the dry itchy patches on her hands, which I recognized as eczema, the "what" or diagnosis. To really help Amy and keep her away from the stereo typical treatment with cortisone cream, I now needed to know the "why."
Me: How long have you had the itchy dry spots?
Amy: A couple of months
Me: Are you prone to UTI’s or yeast infections?
Amy: I had my first yeast infection a month ago.
My thoughts are that two things are happening within a month of each other, both possibly stemming from gut imbalances.
Me: Have you had a round of antibiotics within the last 6 months?
Me: Are you taking birth control pills?
Me: For how long?
Amy: 3 months
BINGO! Birth control pills are notorious for altering gut bacteria. We’d found the smoking gun, the "why."
I already knew that Amy had a history of chronic constipation as well as acne. Before starting the pill, she likely had bacterial imbalances and the BC pills triggered the eczema, which always has its origin in the gut.
Since she wasn’t ready to stop the birth control pills, the best path was to find ways to support her gut flora so that together, her acne, constipation, yeast and eczema would subside.
I recommended cutting out all dairy and adding probiotics and non-dairy fermented foods. For further support, I suggested 50 mg B6, in the absorbable form of pyridoxal -5- phosphate as BC pills deplete B6 (a vitamin that influences energy, metabolism and the formation of neurotransmitters, influencing sleep, anxiety and depression). Lastly, I recommended vitamin D to help modulate the immune system.
If these steps do not give us the results we expect to see within a couple months, I’ll recommend a stool test to determine the function of her digestion and to rule out any parasites or pathogenic bacteria.
Instead of giving Amy steroids indefinitely to control her eczema, the conventional method of treating eczema, we’re taking steps to heal her by identifying and treating the root cause.
To read more about gut health and bacteria click here. https://alivingbalance.net/2015/05/invitation-to-a-digestion-party/
Written by: Cindy Dupuie, CN
Edited by: Vicki Ronaldson